For sophomore Austin Cantrell, out of Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, Georgia, a good deal of satisfaction has to be felt for making the move a couple of years ago to become a Dirtbag. The primary motive according to him was to access exposure.
The success in that venture can be found for the 2022 LHP, who is currently uncommitted, in seeing his opportunities, as well as his skills, grow exponentially.
With evidence to support achievement in both, Cantrell projects to become a dominant force on the mound with his 6’3” and 180 pound frame. The strides made thus far show he’s well on his way, with a fastball that has gone from the low 80’s,now reaches in the mid to upper 80’s. Add to that a mid 70’s breaking ball that is dynamic.
Cantrell rightly recognizes the jump is a by-product of the hard work he’s logged in the last few years, but he attributes much of that motivation to the coaching and opportunities he’s gotten since becoming a member of the Bags. He sees the improvement of his off-speed stuff as a direct connection to his velo going up.
It’s safe to say his style fits right into the organization’s culture, Austin is a “go right at ‘em” type hurler who likes to attack hitters and challenge them with his fastball. Dirtbags GM, Trey Daly, who coached Cantrell in 2019 as a member of the Tap Out team has seen it firsthand.
Daly had this to say about how the lefty’s stuff is complemented by his attitude, “The southpaw from Lanier High School in Georgia is fun to watch. One thing about Austin is he hates to lose, and puts himself out there to perform well for his club.”
Those performances have brought the desired attention to Cantrell, with some prestigious programs from the region and beyond being his current list of interests. All the schools on the radar right now have the boxes checked for his priorities: campus experience, facilities, being in the national picture, and providing next level opportunities. The attention he’s getting at this point has been another motivating factor according to Austin, saying he talks to 5-6 schools per week.
But playing at the level he has reached with the Dirtbags has taught him he still has much to learn. When asked about where he’s seen the most impact he was quick to identify the mental side of pitching.The tutoring from Dirtbag coaches has enabled him to persevere through struggles.
To capture the spirit of these lessons, Cantrell said, “When you get down, you can’t stay down.”
On Playing with such a talented group as the Dirtbag 2022 Tap Out squad, he noted the team making it to the semifinals at the WWBA World Championships, in Georgia, as a sure highlight, adding, “We made some good runs this summer. It’s awesome to be on a winning team. The coaches and players are great.”
Which takes the conversation right back to where it all started for Cantrell, who says he researched the Dirtbags before joining. After seeing them at a tournament he made the decision to come into the fold to get that exposure, but also finding out the Dirtbags offer so much more.
“The coaches are in it for the right reasons. They care about you as a person, not just a player. They want to help you get better,” said Cantrell.
And from the sounds of comments by Daly, those investments from the player and the organization are sure to pay off in the future. Daly commented, “I can’t wait to see the jumps he makes in 2020. We sure are lucky he’s on our side.”
With progress like he’s made so far expecting to continue, the next decisions made by Austin are sure to be impactful on his career and his life.